You’re going to be a dad – now what?
Nothing will fully prepare you for the day your child emerges from the depths of the womb and changes your life forever, but there is a lot you can do to equip yourself for the all important role of “dad”. As Catherine Jones said, “Whether the pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain – your life will never be the same.”
Here are six actions you can take to get off to the best start possible:
Whatever you are feeling, whatever doubts and struggles you have, communicate with your wife. You are partners in this process and being a parent will test this partnership like nothing else. You will naturally have different views and feelings about different aspects of parenthood and that is both healthy and normal. The most effective way to make sure these differences don’t cause conflict is open, honest, consistent communication about everything, right from the start. The more you communicate the easier every aspect of the journey will be for the whole family.
2. Work on yourself.
Fatherhood is about imparting to our kids all they need for success in life. We father our children out of who we are as men. We can only give our children what we have inside to give, and whatever we do have in our hearts we will impart to them in some way. This applies to both the good and the bad. If we have love, joy, peace and goodness in our hearts that’s what we will impart to our children. If we have anger, unforgivenes and prejudice in our hearts, that’s what we will impart to them. There is no greater inspiration for working to get our own lives and hearts whole and free than being a father. Being a father is a parallel journey – learning to be and become a whole man as we raise our daughters to become women and our sons to become men. Most fathers either perpetuate the style of fathering they experienced or work hard at doing the opposite. Conscious fathers do neither – they look at what is best for their children and they do that. And it always starts with you.
3. Trust the process.
As men we often want to fix things, to have everything under control. Fatherhood tests that to the limit. As one man said, “before I had children I had six theories about raising children, now I have six children and no theories”. There will be many times during the pregnancy and birth that you will not be able to step in and “fix it”. You will need to trust your partner and the beautiful course of nature. Even if you don’t always have the solution, just be there. Being present and engaged is the greatest gift you can give your loved ones.
There will be many times during the pregnancy and birth that you will not be able to step in and “fix it”. You will need to trust your partner and the beautiful course of nature.
4. Connect with other men.
The problem with most men is we keep our feelings to ourselves and shoulder the burden of our emotions alone. Far more healthy and beneficial is to be real and honest about what you are feeling and to share it. Millions of men have walked this road and felt the same fears and doubts that you do. Find someone you trust who is a bit further along the fatherhood journey to discuss, offload and process what you are going through. Share with other men, read books about other men’s experiences, chat about your hopes, dreams and fears.
5. Get informed.
As with everything we do in life, the more knowledge and information we have the better. One of the great benefits of living in the world we do is there is unprecedented access to information. Admittedly that includes access to misinformation and rubbish too, but we don’t have any excuse for being uninformed or under-informed about anything. Take the time to research and read about pregnancy, birth and being a great dad. Don’t just take everything your doctor or clinic says as gospel, check for yourself, ask questions, get different views. Bringing a young life into the world is the most important thing we ever do and it warrants being super well informed.
6. Understand your partner’s journey.
While you are processing your own emotions and getting ready for your new role, your partner will be dealing with some pretty radical changes of her own. Pregnancy is a beautiful and natural process but it does involve some quite significant physical, emotional and hormonal challenges and changes. Understanding the changes your partner will go through during her pregnancy is crucial to providing her with the support she will need. The better your preparation, the richer the whole birth and fatherhood experience will be – for you and your family.
Get fully equipped for the arrival of your child with Craig’s practical new book for expectant dads, “It’s a Dad!’”